Finland Leads European Implementation of EU Alt-Fuel Directive

| Finland, Helsinki | Source: NGVA Europe

NGVA Europe L-CNG event in Helsinki Mar2015Finland’s major industry representatives and political decision makers presented their ambitious plans for developing the Nordic region’s market for gas-powered mobility at NGVA Europe’s “2nd Regional Seminar: L-CNG for Transport”, held mid March in Helsinki. Finland has taken a lead role in implementing the EU Directive on deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, with strong commitment from both the public and private sector to expand the domestic gas refuelling network, in particular the infrastructure for bunkering and distribution of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Among the 100 representatives participating were key officials, such as Maria Rautavirta from the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communication, who highlighted the country’s advanced efforts regarding the implementation of the EU’s Directive on alternative fuels infrastructure. The Directive requires Member States to create coverage of gas refuelling points in cities by 2020, and along nine core corridors by 2025, explained Antonio Tricas from the European Commission (DG MOVE), when presenting the EU’s sustainable fuels strategy.

However, Finland’s plans surpass the targets set by the EU, as Ms Rautavirta emphasised: “We have ten years to reach the goals set for 2025, but want to achieve them by 2020 latest, and renewables are essential, especially in heavy duty road transport, in order to meet the requirements. Within five years, Finland will have established a distribution infrastructure for alternative fuels and power sources.”

In order to accomplish the targets, the Finnish government presented energy and climate policies in 2013 that include an LNG Action Plan providing €123 million in subsidies for the deployment of LNG infrastructure for industrial and maritime use. As part of the plan, four LNG terminals will be constructed between 2015 and 2019, thereby doubling the potential use in the country, once completed. The terminals are expected to benefit the use of both LNG and compressed natural gas (CNG) for road transport due to increased availability and lower prices of the fuel as well as increased interconnectivity between coastal regions and the inland, as Annaleena Mäkilä, Executive Director of the Finnish Port Association, pointed out in her presentation.

Moreover, for 2050, the Finnish government has set the ambitious goal of reducing overall transport-related CO2 emissions by 80% through increased use of alternative fuels, such as LNG and renewable biomethane. Targets set out by the administration to reach the objective include a carbon-free passenger vehicle transport, a renewable share of 70% for heavy duty road transport and 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the maritime sector. In addition, Finland’s goal is to cover the whole domestic transport sector’s demand, including aviation, through increased domestic production of renewable fuels.

These far-reaching plans by the Finnish authorities are complemented by continued investments from the industry. Finland’s major gas provider Gasum confirmed its strong commitment to further develop the refuelling infrastructure for gas, including the construction of up to 35 new filling stations by 2025. Gasum’s plans involve increasing the number of supply points for CNG whilst building up a network of filling stations for LNG, and the company also aims at boosting the domestic biogas production through sites located both on and off the gas transmission grid.

Johanna Lamminen, CEO of Gasum, said: “The Nordic gas market is still developing at a rapid pace and demand for LNG is growing in Finland and the neighbouring countries. In addition to LNG, our market is being diversified by a growing production of biogas as well, with renewable biomethane already accounting for 40% of the gas sold as vehicle fuel at Gasum’s 19 filling stations. Finland’s biogas potential covers more than half of the overall usage of natural gas.”

In his speech during the Helsinki event, Lennart Pilskog, Secretary General of NGVA Europe, acknowledged the leading role Finland is taking: “When it comes to establishing gas as a much needed fuel alternative for sustainable transport, large parts of the world are proceeding at a much faster pace than Europe. It is therefore very important to have first-moving countries and Finland is just about to make a big change when it comes to the use of gas”.

(Source: NGVA Europe)

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